"We've been working to balance the idea of ‘Do you know it?' with ‘Can you use it?,'" says K. Michael Hibbard, Interim Schools Supt. of Connecticut Region 15, which educates 5,000 students in Middlebury and Southbury, which are middle-income suburbs of Waterbury.
"We want to know if our kids can apply what they are doing."
Beginning eight years ago, the district infused performance tasks into units of language arts, science, math, art, music and physical education.Every few weeks, says Hibbard, a student will encounter such a task.
"In 5th grade, for instance, the students read the novel Hatchet," he
says."They have to answer a question in writing about whether Brian, the main character, should be considered as having an outstanding trait.The teacher will be looking at the student's content, the evidence he
transitions and his
The tasks, which Hibbard
describes as "valid, user-friendly and equitable," lead all the way from kindergarten through high school.The performance tasks and writing samples end up in portfolios, which are shared with parents at some grade levels at spring conferences.
The performance tasks help determine grades, says Hibbard
, but are not used as an independent assessment tool by the district."To do that would require a lot of energy," he
The district dropped the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills several years ago."They weren't integrated in our studies and took up too much time," Hibbard
explains.The district now relies on two Connecticut state tests at 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th grades to chart its students' progress.
"They are useful-we do need some standardized measure of assessment," remarks Hibbard